I remember being really stoked when Ayako Hamada, Awesome Kong and Cheerleader Melissa joined TNA for a brief time. Women's wrestling was actually the best stuff they had at that time. Hamada seemed to be a big deal to me as I was really getting into Joshi at the time and seeing a legit Joshi wrestler every week was pretty cool. Her and Cheerleader Melissa had an awesome match..maybe a hardcore match or something. Anyway, I never really got too see too much of her stuff in Japan. There's a couple below that are re-watches from maybe 10 years ago. Most are brand new to me. Let's get started!
Ayako Hamada & AKINO vs. Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda (ARSION 12/11/1999): I really don't want to analyze what made it so special to me but it was so just damn intense and engaging. I'll do my usual qualifying statement that I was brought up an ECW and FMW and that's not everyone's cup of tea. Mita and Shimoda are in full hardcore wrestling mode here. They are some of the best at the style. This is another feather in their caps. This I think puts AKINO & Hamada on the map in my estimate. A brutal emotional all time classic.
Ayako Hamada vs. Mariko Yoshida (ARSION 4/21/2001) - Very good stuff here. I really enjoyed Mariko stretching Ayako in the beginning. It seems that Yoshida or maybe Arsion here is more traditional Joshi instead of the grappling focused stuff it was 1998-99. I'm OK with that. If anything it shows Mariko's versatility. Hamada is excellent here in terms of her execution. I'm not 100% on how she sold Yoshida's Koji Clutch finisher after she was released. Although she looked positively out of it while locked in it. So I give her a B+. I think the structure was a bit weak and that's what held the bout back from being a great one. Nevertheless, it was very entertaining.
Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita vs. Ayako Hamada/Mika Akino (AKINO) (Twinstar of Arsion Tag Title, 6/9/01): Very good match but weirdly booked as the baby faces wrestled sorta as heels but the heels LCO were put into a sympathetic position, getting jacked up and bleeding for a good portion of the fight. Of course they make a comeback but why does anyone want to see a heel team make a gutsy comeback. Its the reverse of the 1999 classic. It's not as awesome in part because of this but also its kinda a small crowd. What doesn't suck is the actual wrestling. That stuff is fantastic and that still makes this a really good match.
Mita piledrives Hamada through a table!
Ayako Hamada vs. Michiko Ohmukai (Queen of Arsion Title, 7/3/01 Tokyo): Very good match. Lots of really cool submission moves and double blood. It felt like it lacked a distinction structure or direction. Or you know if they would have kicked it up a notch it might not have seemed that way. It lacked a distinct final third where they went for the absolute kill. I'd say low end very good like maybe ***1/2.
Ayako Hamada vs. Emi Motokawa (7/21/01): I actually liked this match as a whole better than the above bout. It was more basic but I also feel the Emi is more fundamentally sound than Michiko Ohmukai. Emi reminded me of someone trained in AJW, if that makes sense. A very good match, under 13 minutes but it was pretty enjoyable stuff from bell to bell. A great counterpoint to the above match...shorter but always moving, always fighting. No blood but no need to do that sometimes.
Ayako Hamada vs. Mikiko Futagami (GAMI) (Queen of Arsion Title, 7/29/01): Some of the shenanigans at the beginning were in character for the GAMI persona (I got that from reading Jetlag's Match Discussion post here on PWO). The part where she used the title belt and hit Hamada and did a pile driver on it seemed silly. I mean I guess the ref doesn't mind the weapon use but he won't count Hamada as down for a 10 count either. I've seen this before but don't care for it. Slows the match down to a halt. Here its the only real drawback to the match. Everything afterwards is really good stuff. There's a couple flubs but they actually work in the context of the match. They aren't so totally blown that you feel sorry for the wrestlers, you know what I mean? They are just flubs, they recover instantly and move forward (wisely not trying the exact same move immediately after). If the crowd was vocal (and its a bigger crowd), I don't think any of this would have been noticeable. It's your stereotypical quiet Japanese crowd though. I've said too much and you're not going to watch this because who doesn't want to only watch flawless matches? Well screw that, this is a lot of fun and a very good match. Nothing wrong with a couple bumps in the road.
We are going to skip ahead in time a fair bit. Let's take a look at some of her matches in Shimmer. Giant thanks to Shimmer for posting these. I'll share them here.
Sara Del Rey & Madison Eagles & Daizee Haze & Nakagawa vs. Serena Deeb & Cheerleader Melissa & Ayako Hamada & Ayumi Kurihara (SHIMMER 09/12/10): This was a really fun 8 woman tag match with everyone being showcased. I thought Sara Del Rey and Hamada looked the strongest in charisma, execution and intensity.
Sara Del Rey & Madison Eagles vs. Ayumi Kurihara & Ayako Hamada (SHIMMER 43 10/02/11): Well we can call this a rematch sort of. That's the story I am going with Dave Prazak lays it all out for us. This is for the tag belts too. And you know what, this was awesome! All kinds of action from bell to bell. Again Del Ray and Hamada are best but Eagles and Kurihara are great teammates. Really good heel/baby face dynamic but never too much b.s. from the heel team. It's definitely a blast to watch. Exciting finish too!
Kana vs. Ayako Hamada (SHIMMER 50 10/27/12): Very good hard hitting match. It's not more than an exhibition style match but they really lay into each other like you'd see in Japan. Very nice counters by both women. I really thought it ended a couple minutes sooner than it should have. It seemed to only be getting into real high gear. So again, exhibition match but absolutely worth your time. In fact, you might like it more than me.
This was a really fun project that exposed me to more Arsion as well as Shimmer. The '99 tag is probably the best match I've watched in awhile and is clearly a must see for Joshi fans. It's online for you to view - thank you! The Shimmer matches are right there so you gotta watch at least one. I liked the tag best but you might want to see Kana/Asuka and Hamada beat the crap out of each other. You'll be glad you did. Again this was a lot of fun. I watched way more than originally intended but am very happy to be watching Joshi again.